Dear Members

Summer racing is starting to feel like a distant memory as the nights are drawing in, but we have seen our run in racing success continue right into the tail end of the season!

In case you have not heard, on 12th August at the World Junior Rowing Championships Victor Kleshnev won a silver medal in the GB 4x repeating the success of 2017 by holding off a fast finish by Germany to take second place behind home favourites Czech Republic. I am sure you will join me in congratulating Victor on this fantastic achievement!

On 11th August we hosted the annual Maidenhead Regatta which has been running since 1860, and this year was an extremely busy day with an entry of 229 crews from over 40 clubs competing over 157 races - an increase of 20% from last year!  I spoke to a number of people from visiting clubs who really appreciated the effort that went making our event well organised and "stress free" for our visitors, with lots of good food/drink to enjoy and a really friendly "end of season regatta" atmosphere - together with some great racing. It was also good to see so many Maidenhead crews being successful on the water in some thrilling racing! The Maidenhead winning crews are listed below:

WJ14 1x  (Jasmine Stockdale) - coach: Huw Jenkins

WJ13 2x  (Rucha Potdukha & Sylvie Evans)  - coach: Adrian Smith

WJ14 2x (Ellen Gomersall & Dallas Thompson) - coach: Huw Jenkins

WJ14 4x+ (Ellen Gomersall, Abby Jones, Bethyn Roberts, Dallas Thompson & Christa Scott) - coach: Huw Jenkins

Open 4- (Ethan Walters, Elliot Kemp, Sean O’Mahony & Jonny Sneller) - coach: Katerina Kleshneva

W E4x (Janet Woffinden, Maggie Hendry, Janet Dutton & Marion Holmes)

Mixed D4x (Nic Hutchins, Claire Pugh, Nattie Marti & Rob Brockwell)

D1x (Mark Stockdale)

F1x (Marcus Richards)

H1x (Steven Janisch)

E2x (Nick Steel & Marcus Richards) – coach: Jordan Felstead

E4x (Nick Steel, Marcus Richards, Keith Abbott & Tim Hudson) – coach: Jordan Felstead

D8+ (Nic Hutchins, Keith Abbott, Andrew Scott, Rob Brockwell, Nick Steel, Dan Corkin, Huw Jenkins, Dylan Gomersall & Christa Scott ) - coach: Owen Bryant

Once again the regatta was a superb effort by all involved in the organisation and running of the event on the day – so a big thank you to all! Not only did we have a great day of rowing, but we also raised over £3000 for the club's coffers which will be put to good use during the coming year...

Other regattas where Maidenhead crews have seen wins were as follows:

  •  Oxford City Regatta on 18th August saw a number of entries from the club with several 'nearlies' coming very close to winning a special 50th anniversary pot! In the end though there was only one win for Maidenhead: 

AdaM1x (Dan Stevenson) - coach: Nick Steel

  •  Worcester Autumn Regatta on 8th September is an event not often attended by Maidenhead crews, so was good to see a number of squads taking part as well as the following wins:

Open W 2x (Natasha Brown & Caroline Steel)

F1x (Marcus Richards)

The Daytime and Recreational Squad has also been busy, having arranged for 16 members to visit Lake Varese in northern Italy from 6th-10th September for a rowing camp on this huge 9km long international rowing lake.  The participants enjoyed their rowing - which was helped by great weather, good food and drink and a warm welcome from the locals.  Many thanks to Annette Golledge for organising yet another successful overseas visit for the Rec Squad!

Off the water, on 15th September the Junior Squad held its annual end of season Dinner which was well attended by boys and girls from all of the junior squads, parents, supporters and coaches. We were very lucky to have Giedre Rakauskaite, BR Para Rower as the guest speaker who gave an inspirational talk and presented prizes to recipients of the Coaches' Awards.  It was humbling to see the continued success of the Junior Squad at Maidenhead and to celebrate all the hard work and commitment on and off the water that has gone into making 2018 a year to remember! Many thanks also to Chris Sneller and her team of parents for organising the event.

After a really successful racing season for the club in 2018 with wins at local, national and international events for Maidenhead crews, the Squad Captains and I have been spending a lot of time at the Rowing Committee meetings discussing how our racing success can not only be sustained, but developed further in future years. A consistent theme in these discussions is the role played by coaches in optimising a crew’s performance, which I think we all agree is so often a critical determinant in realising a crew’s full potential at all levels of competition. To help us achieve this end we have outlined a Coaching Strategy to develop this coaching competency within the club.

Firstly it is worth saying that coaching can often be seen as a “thankless task” for the individuals concerned, spending hours in the cold/wet on a launch ploughing up and down the Reach – but we are lucky at Maidenhead to have a number of very active and experienced coaches who are very much engaged in training and developing crews across a number of squads. To sustain this, the heart of the coaching strategy is to create an environment within the club where we can attract new coaches, provide them with training and development as they progress their coaching careers – and most importantly to formally recognise the role they play in achieving the competitive success of which we are all so proud! It was also clear from the feedback that I received from members that our coaching strategy had to be built on fairness, transparency and good governance - values that need to be maintained in all aspects of running the club.

The Coaching Strategy can be summarised as follows:

1)  Develop a long term sustainable coaching competency centre within the club by creating a Coaches’ Squad for all volunteer coaches led by an experienced Squad Coaches’ Captain. The Coaches’ Squad will undertake the following:

  • Recognise contribution made to the club by our volunteer coaches:  All volunteer coaches committing >8hrs each month will receive 50% reduction in base membership fees after their first year of being an active coach.
  • Recruit and train our volunteer coaches: The club will embark on a rolling programme to invest up to £5000 (in yr 1 and to be agreed annually thereafter) for the training, development and coaching by professional coaches of our volunteer coaches as directed by the Coaches’ Squad Captain. All new recruits welcome!
  • Manage coaches’ development: Coaches’ Squad Captain to agree assignment of coaches to crews with the other Rowing Squad Captains on quarterly basis as  coaches grow in experience and ability.
  • Share coaching knowledge: Monthly training seminars to be arranged at Coaches’ Squad meetings with expert speakers. Interact with and gain support from British Rowing to share coaching expertise.
  • Non-compulsory: Coaches do not have to join the Coaches’ Squad to be an active coach or receive coaches’ benefits.

2) Fill short term demand for paid coaches/high performance coaches by having a named panel of approved professional coaches from whom members can procure additional coaching services as needed whilst volunteer coaches are developed to this level of proficiency to meet top-end demand. There is no compulsion to use paid coaches, but for the top crews requiring intensive high performance coaching, professional coaches are being used more and more. The aim of our strategy in this sensitive area is to provide a basis for paid coaching within the club environment that is safe, fair and well governed for those who wish to use it:

  • Members Protected: Professional coaches to be CBD checked, launch qualified and first aid trained.
  • Transparent: Names and rates to be added to MRC website. Clear rules for professional coaches (eg Coaches can use MRC fuel/launches if coaching MRC members, but professional coaches cannot coach non-members using club equipment even if members themselves).
  • Well Governed: Need to ensure that professional coaches do not fall under classification of being MRC employees without full Club Committee approval.

3) As a general principle the Club Captain and Coaches’ Squad Captain will seek to ensure that fairness and equality to be maintained by not having combinations of paid/unpaid coaching within squads/crews where some members are subsidising others without the sustained unanimous agreement of all affected parties.

So if you have ever fancied giving coaching a go, but not known how to get started, or if you are an experienced coach looking to pick up a crew and share your rowing knowledge with others – now is the time to sign up! Watch out for details of the first Coaches’ Squad meeting to get the initiative up and running...

We have recently upgraded our water safety equipment following an inspection by the RNLI ready for winter training with new life jackets, flotation aids and throw bags being purchased. Thanks to Jim Hotchin, Claire Pugh and Emma Collins for getting this arranged. Please remember to return the equipment to its correct location after use and if you have any issues or queries please ask before you head out on the water.

Another project that has been approved by the Club Committee is the purchase of a towing vehicle to be used to take our boats to regattas and head races. This has been the subject of intense debate over a number of years, but we have now agreed that the time is right to buy a vehicle specifically for this purpose which members can use (subject to insurance conditions) for a small charge per boat seat. This initiative, which I hope to be in place in time for the Fours Head, will reduce the need for the small number of members with a tow bar fitted to their car from having to shoulder this task throughout the year. I will advise of the process for booking the vehicle for events once it is in place.
I have had a number of reports from private scull owners that their boats have been used by other members without permission. I know that at peak times there is growing competition for our top 1x boats – which is an issue that we hope to address at the next Rowing Committee meeting to allocate club boats across the squads. If you are having trouble finding a 1x to use please speak to myself or your Squad Captain who will advise you which club boats are available at the correct weight. If you are not sure if a boat is a club boat or not – please do check with your Squad Captain or on the EFA system before using!
Gym training and ergo training times for winter training are due to be finalised at the next Rowing Committee meeting also – please try to adhere to these arrangements so that all members can get best use of the training facilities available. We have the junior girls (WJ14/15 and WJ16/17/18) leading the way at Wallingford Long Distance Sculls on 29th September as the first head race for the junior squads this season. Following close in their wake we have the Pairs Head on 6th October, the Fours Head on 3rd November and Vet Fours Head on 4th November for which we have a large number of Maidenhead crews entered. So keep training hard on and off the water!